“Angel of Death” serial killer. Going to heaven?


Not exactly an Easter story, but a prison inmate* just killed serial killer Donald Harvey. The inmate’s motive, probably, was revenge. King Herod and governmental and religious authorities also wanted revenge for Jesus stirring up trouble.** Unlike Jesus, tho, “Angel of Death” Harvey won’t be going to Heaven.

Harvey, a 64-year-old, was  serving multiple life sentences after admitting in 1987 to killing three dozen hospital patients in Ohio and Kentucky. Harvey claimed he killed even more than the 37 he pleaded guilty to in court.

Angel of Death serial killer Harvey. MS of handcuffed man with 2 guards.

Angel of Death serial killer Harvey, AP

Serial Killer on tape.

I’ll never forget an interview I caught with “Angel of Death” Harvey back in the ’90s. He giggled as he talked about his various killing methods and seemed extremely  immature socially.However, he knew exactly what he was doing. He admitted to administering lethal agents, cutting off oxygen to the elderly, and smothering some with  pillows to leave no bruises.

Why did he change his M.O. often? Because those guys in the basement morgues thought they were “Sherlock Holmes types, forensics pros.”

Harvey did not limit his victims to helpless hospital patients. Suspecting his lover/roommate of infidelity, he poisoned his food with arsenic so he’d be too ill to leave their apartment. He poisoned two of his neighbors, too—sickening one and killing the other. He also killed his lover’s father with arsenic.

Harvey’s multi-cide career.

According to Wiki, “Donald Harvey worked in and around the medical profession from the age of 18. He … confessed that during the ten-month period he worked at [his first job], he killed at least a dozen patients. Harvey was insistent that he killed purely out of a sense of empathy for the sufferings of those who were terminally ill. He also admitted that many of the killings he committed were due to anger at the victim.

Harvey kept his crimes from coming to light for over 17 years. The true extent of his crimes may never be known since so many were undetected for so long. Harvey used many methods to kill his victims, such as arsenic; cyanide; insulin; suffocation; miscellaneous poisons; morphine; turning off ventilators; administration of fluid tainted with hepatitis B and/or HIV (which resulted in a hepatitis infection, but no HIV infection, and illness rather than death); insertion of a coat hanger into a catheter, causing an abdominal puncture and subsequent peritonitis.” 

Another memory.

As a criminologist, I studied the Greater Manchester Police during two sabbaticals in England. Just before my first six-months stay, a so-called “Angel of Death” Dr. Harold Shipman had gone on trail in nearby Hyde. He was found guilty of 15 counts of murder and one count of forgery. He’d made himself the beneficiary in the will of one of his victims. In 2005, it came to light that Shipman might have stolen jewelry from his victims. Over £10,000 worth of jewelry had been found stashed in his garage.

Part of a serial killer sub-species.

Wiki: “An angel of mercy or angel of death is a rare type of criminal offender (often a type of serial killer) who is usually employed as a caregiver and intentionally harms or kills people under their care. The angel of mercy is often in a position of power and may decide the victim would be better off if they no longer suffered from whatever severe illness is plaguing them. This person then uses their knowledge to kill the victim. In some cases, as time goes on, this behavior escalates to encapsulate the healthy and the easily treated.

Characteristics and motivations.

The motivation for this type of criminal is variable, but generally falls into one or more types or patterns:

  • Mercy killer: Believe the victims are suffering or beyond help, though this belief may be delusional.
  • Sadistic: Use their position as a way of exerting power and control over helpless victims.
  • Malignant hero: A pattern wherein the subject endangers the victim’s life in some way and then proceeds to “save” them. . .

In the medical field.

Some people with a pathological interest in the power of life and death tend to be attracted to medical professions or acquiring such a job. … One such killer was nurse Jane Toppan, who admitted during her murder trial that she was sexually aroused by death. She would administer a drug mixture to patients she chose as her victims, lie in bed with them and hold them close to her body as they died. Another example is Harold Shipman, an English family doctor, who made it appear that his victims died of natural causes (disease). Between 1975 and 1998, he murdered at least 215 patients; he is suspected of having murdered 250 people. Dr. John Bodkin Adams, meanwhile, though acquitted in 1957 of the murder of one patient, is believed to have killed around 163 patients in Eastbourne, England. …

Other known “Angels of Death” include:

Donald Harvey 

Serial killer Donald Harvey stands before a judge, ’87 AP.

Incidentally, in the popular Dexter TV series, Dexter Morgan’s first murder victim is his father’s nurse, an angel of mercy, who worked in the fictional Angel of Mercy Hospital. In the series finale, Dexter murders his own sister, Deborah Morgan, in an Angel of Mercy style killing.


*An autopsy showed that Harvey, who died March 30 in Toledo, Ohio, had several skull fractures and brain injuries. The Lucas County Coroner says the autopsy shows that no weapon was used in the attack. Investigators say that no charges have been filed yet. Investigators are continuing to interview witnesses.

**”The murder of Jesus was a vast conspiracy involving Rome, Herod, the Gentiles, the Jewish Sanhedrin, and the people of Israel—diverse groups who were seldom fully in accord with one another. In fact, it is significant that the crucifixion of Christ is the only historical event where all those factions worked together to achieve a common goal.” Source: https://www.gty.org/library/articles/A336/Who-Killed-Jesus

To learn about CLEFT HEART: Chasing Normal, click the Amazon or Barnes & Noble buttons in the margins. Or click the image of the book cover. My coming-of-age memoir has intertwining love stories, mystery, tragedy, and triumph.

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